During this month The Spectrum Website will be conducting a fund-raising campaign where we will be more explicit in explaining our financial needs and asking you for assistance. If visitation numbers alone were to equate with success we would certainly consider this a successful year: 140,000 visitors, 302,000 visits, 850,000 page views. And the readership growth curve is moving upward. For Adventist news and commentary oriented websites we presently are second behind the Adventist Review in page views. However, the reasons for this readership – while impossible to infer from raw numbers alone – we believe correlate to the value delivered here. Value to you, our readers and participants. And value we think most of you would like to see maintained and growing.
So, what do we judge that value to be comprised of?
First, and foremost, we want to provide a place where the difficult issues confronting Adventism can be examined, in a thoughtful, respectful but unflinching manner. There is far more diversity of thought within our church than many recognize or perhaps would even wish to admit. Some of those perspectives need to push the church toward change. Others need to ultimately be rejected as mistakes. But there needs to be a safe, open place for this dialog. And this is, practically speaking, nearly impossible to pursue within the communication vehicles of official Adventism. Not because the church, or those vehicles are somehow bad. But they serve a broad constituency that has other needs and sometimes a low tolerance for ‘pushing the envelope’. The Spectrum Website gives service to the church in ways analogous to how a free press serves its city and country.
Second, this website continually speaks to the intersection of Adventism and a broader world culture. We are not unique in this but where else would you go to find the quantity, range and depth of material that has been provided here in the past year? Some has been highly controversial, such as issues surrounding homosexuality, faith and science, and abortion. Others, while more theological, still speak to how an Adventist Christian thinks and lives within the wider culture. We’ve discussed, among others, the role of public evangelism, Open Theism, and God’s character.
Third, a major component of the website is to provide mechanism and opportunity for reader interaction – with the authors, and with each other. Sparks fly at times, to be sure. But there is also community that is alive and growing. Site editors are not always perfect arbitrators but have to provide and enforce a safe yet open environment. At times postings have had to be deleted and a few participants have even been banned. But mostly the level of discourse, while often passionate, is articulate, respectful and open to new ideas.
Finally, this website is free. You do not have to pay a subscription fee to obtain content. This has been a carefully considered decision at the Adventist Forum Board level. We recognize people have radically disparate economic capabilities and we do not wish to impose a monetary ‘firewall’. We are persuaded that this model is right for an internet presence, but of course it also means funding must be raised in other ways. In subsequent articles this month we will talk frankly and in-depth about expenses and future plans. We hope you value what is available here and will consider giving us your support. We truly need your contributions.
Chairman - Adventist Forum Revenue/Finance Committee